Editor's note: The AP notes former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi may appeal today's guilty verdict on charges he played a role in the passing of state secrets to Qatar and the Al Jazeera television network. Morsi is already facing a death sentence over his role in 2011 prison rioting, which he has also appealed. - Tricia
Qatar (/ˈkæˌtɑːr/, /ˈkɑːtɑːr/, /ˈkɑːtər/ or /kəˈtɑːr/; Arabic: قطر Qaṭar[ˈqɑtˤɑr]; local vernacular pronunciation: [ɡɪtˤɑr]), officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر Dawlat Qaṭar), is a sovereign country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island country of Bahrain, as well as sharing maritime borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Whether it should be regarded as a constitutional or an absolute monarchy is a matter of opinion. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour. In 2013, Qatar's total population was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates.
Qatar is a high income economy and is a developed country, backed by the world's third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development. Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network. For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to do so.